Because Women are strong. And different.
Living Well...together, while apart
May is National Women’s Heath Month. A perfect time to celebrate that women’s bodies are strong, capable, and powerful. And while each female body is unique as a whole, our beautiful bodies are created and develop differently compared to men.
Understanding and embracing these differences puts us in a better position to continue to get stronger, healthier, and happier. In our very own skin.
Here we explore some important differences between women and men’s bodies and ways to modify your health and exercise routines to optimize results.
Difference 1: Knee Valgus
Women tend to have wider hips than men. This means our hips are wider than our knees and creates a tendency for our knees to collapse inwards – also known as knee valgus. We are therefore more susceptible to certain kinds of knee injuries and can be at particular risk during activities such as running, jumping, and even walking down the stairs.
Creating more pelvic and hip stability, strengthening your glutes, and increasing ankle range of motion are all factors that will improve knee alignment and keep some pesky pain and injuries at bay:
Strengthen your glutes. Especially your glute medius and minimus which act to adduct and externally rotate your femur in your hip joint. Hip bridges, clams, and squats with a band just higher than your knee joint are some effective options.
Work on patellar tracking. One legged step downs are terrific for encouraging the outside of those glutes to fire (remember that external rotation from above?!). Keep the platform relatively low. Start the movement by bending back from the hips and then bend the knee and ankle. Emphasizing the glutes and a stable pelvis for this movement will help keep the knee tracking over the toe instead of caving in. It will improve your balance and abdominal strength too!
Increase ankle mobility. Tight calves and ankles can cause the feet to pronate, forcing the shin bone and thigh bone to internally rotate encouraging those knees, once again, to cave in. Work on stretching AND strengthening the calve muscles. Eccentrically loading the calf by having your heel extend off a step and hold your body weight will encourage more active dorsiflexion and create strength through the calve in a lengthened position.
Difference 2: Arthritis Risk
One in 4 women – compared to one in five men – develop arthritis. To add to the challenge, we experience worse pain and are far more vulnerable to rheumatoid arthritis – which can be extremely debilitating.
Here are a few things that can help:
Maintain a healthy body weight. Excess body weight can put extra pressure on the joints – eroding the cartilage and raising arthritis risk. So, healthy eating and exercise to maintain a heathy body weight can be hugely beneficial.
Build your muscles. Having stronger muscles can alleviate the wear and tear on our joints. So, pick up some weights, increase your muscle and joint strength, and boost your metabolism at the same time!
Keep moving. If you are currently struggling with arthritis pain, physical activity is still hugely beneficial. Find activities that don’t exacerbate the pain.
- Take your time warming up. Do lots of exercises to increase ROM of the joints and breathe deeply as you start to extend the reach and length of your muscles. In fact, the types of exercises you typically do to “warm-up” can end up being extended to create a fabulous, pain free workout.
- Keep the activities low impact, avoiding anything that jars the joints. Walking, swimming, hiking, yoga, and cycling are all wonderful options.
- Choose exercises that develop better posture and balance. Both these variables encourage use of muscles to hold and maintain positions rather than hanging out on your joints or relying on bone-on-bone articulations for stability. The creation of strong, open joints throughout the body can help decrease inflammation and pain.
Difference 3: Body Composition
Fat is essential for our survival. In both men and women, it insulates, protects vital organs, stores vitamins, supports our immune system, and ensures optimal neurological function.
But while men have 3% essential body fat, women need 12%. That’s right, in order to survive we need 4 times more essential fat. The reasons are quite complex but the main one of course is we are built – incredibly – with the ability to grow and nourish another human using our own reserves. Wow, right? We’re awesome.
So why is this difference important to understand? Here are a few vital things to consider:
Ensure your expectations in relation to weight and body composition are healthy and realistic. For example, a man might set a goal to attain a body composition of 12% body fat. On average 3% of that will be essential and 9% stored. This is considered a healthy goal. For a woman, the same healthy goal would be to achieve 21% body fat. (NOT 12%!!!!) As naturally 12% of that is essential but – like her male peer only 9% stored.
Men naturally carry more muscle. Right? If they are built to store less fat, their muscles (and bones incidentally) will weigh more. Having more muscle makes it easier to maintain more muscle. The take home? Weight train. And once you’ve learned great technique, periodically LIFT HEAVY. Not only does this help maintain lean tissue it will increase your body’s ability to burn fat and keep your energy and metabolism high. The best thing about weight training? It increases competence, confidence, and body self-esteem.
Difference 4: Bone Density
Directly related to different body compositions, compared to men, women tend to have smaller, thinner bones. We are also therefore more likely to get osteoporosis. In fact, osteoporosis is 4 times more common in women. A second important factor being the sharp decrease in estrogen we experience when we reach menopause.
You are never too young or too old to take care of your bones. The best thing to do? Exercise.
Strengthen your feet. Since we’re all working out at home, take the opportunity to exercise with your shoes off. This will strengthen the bones in your feet which tend to weaken in women before anything else.
Move against gravity! Weight bearing activities including walking, jogging, and hiking are phenomenal for strengthening the lower limbs, hips, pelvis, and lower part of the spine.
Lift weights. This is the most effective way of encouraging bone density maintenance and growth. Once you’ve mastered the techniques, commit to periods where you LIFT HEAVY. There is a growing body of research showing that 4-5 sets of lifting weight that are heavy enough you can only complete 5-6 repetitions is one of the best ways of increasing bone density in women over 58 years of age.
Find exercises that challenge your balance. One of the biggest risks associated with low bone mineral density is fractures. Better balance will decrease risk of falling.
“…Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others. This is a call to arms. A call to be gentle, to be forgiving, to be generous with yourself. The next time you look into the mirror, try to let go of the story line that says you're too fat or too sallow, too ashy or too old, your eyes are too small or your nose too big; just look into the mirror and see your face. When the criticism drops away, what you will see then is just you, without judgment, and that is the first step toward transforming your experience of the world.” - Oprah Winfrey
Today’s Live Workouts
Happy Monday! Ready to get moving to start your week off right? We’ve got TWO classes on the schedule for today!
TOTAL BODY CONDITIONING WITH ROBERT S
Join Robert S today for a Total Body Conditioning workout! Challenge your cardio and strengthen your muscles from head to toe with this incredibly effective no-nonsense bodyweight training.
No equipment needed today.
Join Robert at 12:00pm (30 minutes) from your own living room.
Click here to join the workout.
Meeting ID: 864 5295 2847
YOGA FUSION WITH ROBERT Y
Join Robert Y today for our new Yoga Fusion workout! A combination of hatha, ashtanga, and kudalini yoga techniques. This class will engage your muscles, open your joints, calm your mind, and lift your spirits. (All levels)
No equipment needed today.
Join Robert at 5:15pm (45 minutes) from your own living room.
Click here to join the workout.
Meeting ID: 899 4248 0739
THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE
Click here to view our weekly schedule.
If you have questions about our virtual live workouts, please reach out to Lauren.
Today’s Trainer Moves
Many women these days are wearing even more hats than usual: online school assistant, recess supervisor, short order lunch chef… Making time for yourself and your workouts can be especially challenging. Check out this quick, effective workout and find 7 minutes somewhere – anywhere – in your day to fit it in!
For questions about today’s Trainer Moves, you can connect directly with Meg here.
Udon with Soft-Boiled Egg, Hot Soy, & Black Pepper
Butter, egg yolk, and starch enrich the soy broth, dressing chewy udon noodles in a silky sauce. Sharp black pepper and scallions break up its deeply savoury edge with light spice and fresh flavour.
For more incredible recipes like this, check out our Spice of Life Recipe Book.
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tsp mirin
- 1 3/4 lb fresh, vacuum-sealed, or frozen udon noodles (such as Twin Marquis)
- 6 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
- 4 scallions, finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)
- Black pepper
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- Fine sea salt
- Fill a small saucepan with water; bring to a boil over high. Lower eggs into water, and cook 6 minutes. Transfer eggs to a large bowl of ice water. Let cool 5 minutes. Drain and peel eggs, and set aside.
- Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high. While water comes to a boil, stir together vegetable stock, tamari, and mirin in a small saucepan; cook over low, stirring occasionally, until hot, about 8 minutes. Add noodles to boiling water, and cook according to package directions for al dente. Drain noodles, and divide evenly among 4 bowls.
- Divide butter evenly among bowls; pour hot soy sauce mixture evenly over bowls. Halve eggs lengthwise, and top each bowl with 2 egg halves. Sprinkle evenly with scallions, and scatter a generous amount of black pepper over noodles. Drizzle evenly with sesame oil, and garnish with sea salt.
- Find vacuum-sealed or frozen udon noodles at Japanese markets or online.
Do you have a “Something of the Day” you’d like us to share?! Email Meg.